Sunday, April 14, 2013

Bucs Look To Broom Reds; Harrison To Indy

The Bucs have an opp for a sweep for the second straight series, quite a turnaround from their early slog. They also could reach .500, not a bad place to be given their schedule. To do it, Phil Irwin, 26, is gonna have to net those butterflies in his stomach as he makes his MLB debut this afternoon.

The righty doesn't have much of a fastball, but he does serve up four pitches, featuring a 12-to-6 hook and solid changeup; his twitter handle is @FilthyPhil36. He's another in a line of Bucco hurlers who depend on location and count rather than overpowering stuff. Irwin was up and down in camp, but did show the ability to get some swings and misses when he got ahead of hitters.

RHP Mat Latos is his opponent, and he's murder on the Pirates. Latos has never lost a game against Pittsburgh, going 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA in six starts. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:35 and the game will be aired by Root Sports and The Fan 93.7.

Pirate lineup: Starling Marte LF, Travis Snider RF, Andrew McCutchen CF, Garrett Jones 1B, Neil Walker 2B, Pedro Alvarez 3B, Mike McKenry C, John McDonald SS and Phil Irwin P.

Typical night-to-day lineup.

Red lineup: Shin-Soo Choo CF, Zack Cozart SS, Joey Votto 1B, Brandon Phillips 2B, Jay Bruce RF, Todd Frazier 3B, Chris Heisey LF, Ryan Hanigan C and Mat Latos P.

Phillips is back.

  • The Pirates opted to go with more pitching and will be short on the bench today, so they spared Bryan Morris and optioned Josh Harrison to Indy to clear 25-man roster space for Irwin. We're guessing this foreshadows a Brandon Inge call up. He has a couple of homers at Indy, but is hitting .125 (he has more walks than hits) with 12 K in 40 PA. The FO wants someone to give Pedro a blow against lefties, and Jordy Mercer doesn't fit a middle-of-the-order batting profile.
  • Jason Grilli is off today, and Mark Melancon is iffy as both have had heavy workloads lately. The bullpen has been pretty well chewed up as the starters aren't getting very deep into games, and the Bucs are in the opening series of a three week stretch without any breaks.
  • This is expected to be the only start Wandy Rodriguez misses due to his lower leg tightness.
  • Pittsburgh hasn't swept Cincinnati at home since April 16-18th, 2010.
  • The Pirates have banged out 35 hits in their past four contests, after getting just 26 knocks in their first seven games. They're still last in the MLB in BA, but at least at .239, they're comfortably above the Mendoza line. Their .255 OBP and .251 slugging % are also in the basement.
  • The Bucs are shuffling pitchers around in the upper minors in a domino effect from injuries at various levels. Kinda makes you wonder where all those high school arms they drafted in 2009 are. 
  • Pittsburgh's Low A club at West Virginia had the bats smoking last night. Converted flamethrower Stetson Allie cranked out two homers (he now has five) and drove in five runs while Dilson Herrera went 4-for-4 with a homer, three RBI and a couple of walks in a 14-9 win.
  • Why the delay in announcing the pieces of the Hanny trade over the winter? Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote "The Pirates really wanted a young shortstop they could build around and (Jose) Iglesias was the guy they earmarked,” according to one baseball executive. Still, Mark Melancon was a pretty solid Plan B choice. Hanny, btw, will be sidelined for at least the next few days due to a right hamstring injury, a problem he had early last season in Pittsburgh.

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